Who is responsible for maintaining land where I tripped and fell?

by Juanita
(Richmond, VA)

I was walking back from the store with my daughter, around the sewer grid where the water meter is located in the ground. Grass surrounds the concrete that sits there. Well there was a hole that developed where the dirt and grass were, and my foot went into the hole.

I fell and hurt my foot, my knee hit the man hole cover and also my hand was injured from the fall. We went to court and the city attorney jumped up and said they're not liable because the land belongs to the company's property it sits on.

Here's the thing... the company says they lease the property from the city and the city has the ease and control of the water system. My question is, if that's true did the city attorney commit perjury? Can that help my upcoming case? How can we resolve the issue of who is responsible for the ground I tripped on? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Who is responsible for maintaining land where I tripped and fell?":

Juanita (Richmond, VA):

It is the policy here at InjuryClaimCoach.com not to interfere with the attorney-client relationship. To do so would be inappropriate. If you are represented by an attorney, your best interests would be served by heeding your attorney's counsel.

The city attorney did not commit perjury. To commit perjury a person must utter a falsehood while testifying after being sworn in by a court, or by a government body with the power to investigate a matter in controversy.

--- Sidebar ---

By "ease" you are probably referring to an "easement." An easement is the granting by a property owner to a third party the right to use the property owner's land, or part of it for specific purpose.

Here's an example:

Let's say you own a piece of property and a private gas company wants to pay you so they can run an underground pipeline through a portion of your property. If you agree, you will give the gas company an easement to run their pipeline under a specific and mutually agreed upon area under your property.

Here's another example:

You own a piece of land and a neighbor wants to be able to drive from the public road directly to her property. Unfortunately, to do so the neighbor will have to cut across a portion of your property.

If she can't cut across your property it will take her an extra 30 minutes to get home as she would have to circle all the way around your property. If you decide to accommodate your neighbor you can give her an easement to traverse a specific area of your property. You can charge her for the easement, or not.

To enforce an easement, it is best to record it in the county's public records department, just as you would the deed to a parcel of property.

--- End Sidebar ---

To resolve the issue of ownership and easement to the property where the sewer grid is located, go to the county records department and ask to see the plot upon which the sewer grid is located. By doing so you will be able to confirm the ownership of the property and whether an easement exits.

Unfortunately, to know who is responsible for the maintenance of the property upon which the sewer grid is located will require access to to the agreement between the city and the property owner. That agreement will likely not be found in the property records. To obtain that information will require an agreement by the city or property owner. From the facts you present, their cooperation is not likely.

To access to that agreement you can request a subpoena duces tecum be issued and served upon the the city and the property owner. Although you can request a subpoena duces tecum be issued, without an attorney that may be difficult. Moreover, if the case has already been finalized, the issue of the agreement will have to be raised on appeal.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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